Wednesday, February 1, 2012
So, you want to be a star?
My 'manifesto' for 2012 included sharing business promotion advice on Mercantile Muse. You see I've owned a PR/Marketing/Advertising firm, Speakeasy, for 17+ years. I work with other small businesses. I'm a one girl show and I wear many hats. Any given day may find me designing a logo, creating a marketing plan, placing advertisments, or writing a press release. I think it's time for me to share some tips with Muse followers, especially since a lot of you operate your own online businesses and offline/3D businesses.
Let's start with a few things anyone can employ, for no cost, to gain a larger share of the marketplace.
#1. Start from wherever you are. See the sign?
Pay attention to it. You can't go back and change what you've done with regard to your business. Regretting how you've gone about things doesn't move you forward. Start from wherever you are. Assess where you stand at this moment and where you want to go. Write it down. It makes it more real.
#2. Listen to your customers wants and needs.
Today I sold my first large print because a customer asked for what she really wanted. It was something I was planning on doing anyways, but she gave me the reason to buy the larger art paper. (Now, I have to update my shop to offer this option to all my customers!) I'm really excited that the first large print is off to Austrailia simply because I listened and was willing tweak my offerings based on my what my customer wanted. This also applies to customization, something else I offer my customers. If you have a product or service that can be customized, do it. It gives people one more reason to choose you. It also indicates to potential customers that you are willing to do what it takes to get the sale. A pretty good vibe to sending out. Afterall, who are you going to buy from.......the person who says flat out- 'no I don't offer customazation' or the one who says 'let me see what I can do'.
#3. Be kind. Live by the golden rule.
You may have a customer who pushes your buttons with questions. Even if you're not willing to answer any more, or can't help them in the way they need, there is a nice way to say no. People appreciate being treated with kindness. Think about how you would want to be treated in a certain situation, and treat your customers the same way. Remember this in your shop policies as well. It can speak volumes about who you are, not only as a business person, but as a person. I don't know about you, but I don't care to do business with nasty, mean, negative people. I work too hard for my money to give it away to someone who can't treat me nicely. It's not that hard and it's free.
#4. Answer inquiries promptly.
When a potential customer contacts you, let them know you've received their email or convo as soon as you can. Even if it's a short note that simply says 'I've received your inquiry and will get back to you later today in more detail'. This shows you're interested in their business. It's also just good manners.
#5. Know that emails and convos can come across completely different than a real conversation.
Before hitting the send button, are you shouting at your customer in all CAPS? Have you said something that can be mis-construed? Re-read your messages. Twice for that matter. You can't take back how something sounds once you've hit the send button.
How do these tips relate to promoting your business? As I've already said, who wants to give their hard earned money away to people who can't manage a little common courtesy or to people who won't treat them like they are the customer? (Pet peeve alert: I just hate it when I go into a store and I'm the one that says hello, how are you today- not the person behind the counter! I usually leave without purchasing something). Who wants to purchase something from you if you don't respond to their emails/convos?
If you are mismanaging these aspects of your business, it will hurt your bottom line. If you're dong them right, it will make a difference in the long run. Try to put yourself in your customer's shoes at every step of a transaction.
As far as 'start from where you are' goes, you can't get to point B, unless you know where point A is.
Are you doing these things right or haven't you even considered them as part of your overall marketing?
Tomorrow begins the next shop and blog link up, so be sure to stop by. Talk about free promotion. Be sure to join the fun.
Have a great day,